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My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


HYDE PARK, Monday—I have just had an amusing, anonymous letter, and I am going to reproduce it here because I think it is a good note on which to start the New Year. My correspondent writes:

"My dear Mrs. Roosevelt: Don't you think it is a mistake to refer to yourself as a very old lady? How do you think a person eighty years old reacts? The impression is a poor one. One does not think of you in any age bracket, but as a self-disciplined please in the future forget your age and just be yourself. No need to sign this. My answer will come if in your talks you just speak as Eleanor Roosevelt—the Invincible. Thank you."

I want to thank this anonymous correspondent because it had never occurred to me that it would be discouraging to anybody when I said I was a very old lady. I realize there are many older people. Perhaps, therefore, my correspondent is right, and I will heed this warning. I wish I were "invincible." That means you have no weak moments, but I am afraid there are very few of us these days who don't occasionally have them.

On my Sunday television program, however, I found myself reacting violently against what I felt was the rather weak and fearful attitude of one of the gentlemen participating. I suppose when you have great possessions, for example, it makes you more fearful that you may lose them, even though you protest that they are of no importance to you. Again, I understand well Mr. Hoover's Quaker, and therefore pacifist, instincts. But somehow down deep inside of me there is always the resentment against the attitude that the answers to our problems can not be found and that, when we face those problems honestly, our people will not meet them courageously and adequately.

I am always surprised at any lack of confidence in the people of the United States. It seems to me they have proved themselves so often; and even though we may occasionally find among us people who will lie, steal, cheat and murder, we must write them off as the failures resulting from a civilization which, while it is better, I believe, than that of any other country, is still not perfect. The great mass of our people, however, are capable of greatness and complete adequacy, of fine dreams, of courage often surpassing that of their leaders.

One young girl wrote me this Christmas that she would not give up the hope that in the world as a whole we could come to an understanding. But she felt it would help all of us greatly if throughout the world we all believed in a Supreme Being, and if the Christmas story of love and sacrifice could in some way be reproduced in the beliefs of all people. Many people, of course, write me that the test of the coming year is whether love can triumph over hate—the real test for us is perhaps whether we, in the United States, can keep love in our hearts even when we are forced to meet power with power in military and economic ways.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Hyde Park (Dutchess County, N.Y., United States) [ index ]
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About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, January 2, 1951

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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MEP edition publlished on June 30, 2008.

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.